Police Take-Home Cars: Who Really Needs Them?


When Martin O’Malley was Baltimore’s mayor, he shaved money from the city budget by taking away take-home cars from workers who had come to believe the taxpayer-funded program was a contractual right. Baltimore police alone had 133 take-home vehicles, and O’Malley cut the number to 72. Somewhere between then and now, reports the Baltimore Sun, the city’s law enforcement agency has increased its take-home fleet to 149.

Having a take-home car can be considered a perk, a privilege or a necessity, driven by title or duty, and while for some positions it seems an obvious requirement to respond to life-and-death emergencies, take-home cars for people in other positions (the deputy major in the fiscal division) can raise questions. Many police officials do need police vehicles at home–district commanders, homicide specialists, members of the bomb squad and hostage negotiators. But what about the head of planning and research (whose take-home car was taken away by O’Malley and later restored), or the major in charge of administration, or the head of personnel?

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